As GC Busan lifted the OGN APEX trophy, it also complete the change of guard from the old to new in the Korean Overwatch scene. With both Lunatic-Hai and Cloud9KongDoo shifting focus to the Overwatch League, it is up to GC Busan to fill in their shoes as the new giants in the thriving APEX circuit.
But in front of them laid one last hurdle before they are able to stamp their authority and position as the ‘new’ big dog that runs the yard. En route to the APEX S4 Grand Finals, GC Busan defeated both finalists from Season 3 – Lunatic-Hai and Cloud9KongDoo in three back-to-back matches with a 10-0 record; and aim to add another APEX finalist’s scalp to their trophy wall in the form of APEX Season 2 losing finalists, RunAway.
Being in this position is not new as RunAway reached their APEX career high by finishing second in APEX Season 2. Denied by Lunatic-Hai back then, they definitely want to finally finish the job which they failed the last time they were at this stage. After a very disappointing APEX Season 3 where they finished below 9th, RunAway are back with a vengeance and despite a relatively quiet journey to the Grand Finals, are not one to be underestimated with as they were the only team to have defeated GC Busan since the tournament moved into Group Stage #2.
The stage is set. The crowd is pumped up. An up-and-coming team who disposed two giants en-route to the final, aiming to cap their fairytale season with another giant-killing feat in the final. And on the other side, a redeemed sleeping giant aiming to claim what is rightfully theirs. Two contrasting storylines but with one main goal. The title of APEX Season 4 Champions and more to come with it.
Map 1: Nepal – Not-So-Friendly Skies for RunAway as Hooreg Dominate
This season’s surprise package GC Busan started the first match on Sanctum with Hooreg on Pharah. Aggressively raining rockets onto the hitscan-less RunAway opening lineup, he went unchallenged as GC Busan raced to an early 91% lead.
A brief retake by RunAway was swiftly answered by a quick retake by GC Busan to secure a morale boosting win. On Shrine, RunAway decided to have Haksal run on Genji while Stitch on Tracer with instant impact as they made life harder for Hooreg’s Pharah to secure the win and tie the score 1-1.
Still undeterred, Hooreg stayed on Pharah on third map – village – and his effective zoning due to his splash damage saw GC Busan jump to 99% lead. Still not running a proper hitscan to counter Pharah, Haksal’s effective Genji ult did took out GC Busan’s Pharmercy combo forcing a flip at 99% but their control didn’t last long as GC Busan who had the ult advantage managed again turned the tide. The closing minutes of Nepal saw a big team fight which was won by GC Busan to win Nepal 2-1, and earn an early 1-0 overall lead.
Map 2: Hollywood – RunAway put Style Points Second with Comeback Win On Hollywood
Starting the map on defense, GC Busan lured members of RunAway into the room on the right before turning it into a quick grave for the unsuspecting boys in pink. GC Busan were on a high after the big opening team fight and managed to again deny a subsequent RunAway push.
Perhaps it was GC Busan’s overconfidence, or RunAway managing to dig deeper into their reserves, RunAway somehow managed to secure the payload and snowballed it to a strong, full push despite the rough start. Haksal (Genji) & Stitch (Tracer) led the line with effective flanking and decisive kills which in turn awarded them a completion with a good time bank.
On the reverse, GC Busan also managed a full push but only after a last-ditch attempt on overtime. They struggled to contain Haksal who was on a roll and had the impossible task of denying RunAway who only needed a single tick in the extra-time round. They failed (obviously) and with the win, RunAway ties the score at 1-1. A standout, however was ‘Profit’ who in spite of playing on the losing side, was the most impressive player of the round with a +13 Kills-to-Deaths difference. Another interesting titbit from Hollywood was that despite winning the round, everyone in RunAway had a negative k/d ratio – save for ‘Stitch’.
Map 3: Hanamura – Kox & Bumper Lead the Way for RunAway Decisive Win
Following a slow start with their loss on Nepal, RunAway finally found their groove and again showed their collective offensive strength as they mowed down GC Busan’s defense for a quick capture on the first point. However they were stalled at least twice for the second; not even getting a single tick as GC Busan set up a very solid defence. Alas the last push from RunAway was finally successful – again thanks to ‘Haksal’s effective dragon blades which secured the capture with considerable time remaining on the clock.
GC Busan were clearly frazzled on the reverse and were unable to manage a full capture, stopped at 70% on point B to see RunAway take the overall 2-1 lead as they head into the fourth map. Just like the first two maps, ‘Profit’ was the star for GC Busan but the difference makers on Hanamura were certainly the RunAway support players as the combination of ‘Kox’ and ‘Bumper’ allowed room for ‘Haksal’ and ‘Stitch’ to roam free. The impressive ‘Profit’ with a +7 k/d record wasn’t enough to carry his team past a more robust RunAway crew.
Map 4: Watchpoint Gibraltar – HagoPeun Catalyst to GC Busan Counter
Down 1-2, it was GC Busan’s turn to choose the next map which saw them going for their comfort pick, Watchpoint Gibraltar where they carry a 75% win-rate heading into the match. In a counter-intuitive approach, ‘Profit’ (Genji) and ‘Hooreg’ (Tracer – soldier) tried to go toe-to-toe with ‘Haksal’ (Genji) and ‘Stitch’ (Tracer) but found themselves at the back foot early on as the RunAway duo proved to be a more potent combo, leading their team’s march past the first two points.
So quick was the RunAway payload that at a point, they were close to completing a full-push close to record time but GC Busan’s ‘HagoPeun’ on support had other plans. His smart uses of Ana’s biotic grenades, sleep darts and nano boosts stymied RunAway’s march and they were stopped meters short of the final point. This was indeed the morale boost GC Busan needed as they responded with a very rampant march on offense. The whole team stepped up their game and it was ‘Hooreg’ who played catalyst as he led his team to out-frag the RunAway squad, with a +16 k/d difference.
‘HagoPeun’s extraordinary play on support also saw him amass a very impressive overall rating with Ana and Zenyatta. Just like the earlier match on Hanamura, while the DPS get all the flashy kills and highlights, it is the support players who played the biggest sway in deciding the outcome of a match. Two points apiece, now it was RunAway’s turn to pick the next map.
Map 5: Temple of Anubis – RunAway Plans Derailed
Confident of their ability to pull off quick captures, RunAway chose Temple Anubis for the fifth map. As conventional wisdom go, RunAway intend to let their advantage on firepower play the defining trait to win on Anubis. Defending first, RunAway were easily swept on point A as GC Busan carried on the momentum for a comfortable capture of point B. On offense, RunAway responded as expected with an even more impressive capture time of Point A yet things didn’t go as planned as GC Busan time and time again denied RunAway the capture on Point B.
‘HagoPeun’s’ Sombra pick denied Runaway players the health packs that in turn dialled down their aggressiveness as they strived to capture the point. ‘Haksal’s’ Genji was ineffective against GC Busan who added with a much shorter walk from spawn, were playing with great confidence as they also effectively nullified ‘Kox’ and ‘Stitch’. GC Busan’s constant hero switches threw RunAway’s attack plans out of the window as they struggled to organize an effective capture of point B.
RunAway players were literally dropping like flies with at least three pushes failing to capture the second tick, in spite of them investing on multiple ults on each of them. RunAway’s final desperate attempt saw them caught off guard with ‘Profit’s’ surprise shift to Bastion which cut down the boys in pink like hot knife through butter. So impressive was GC Busan on Anubis that everyone in the squad registered a better k/d record compared to RunAway who were all in the red.
RunAway’s comfort pick didn’t go as planned and now they are one match away from losing another APEX Grand Final.
Map 6: Dorado – RunAways Not Done Yet
Staring at a second OGN APEX Grand Final loss in the span of three seasons, RunAway threw in everything they’ve got to halt the GC Busan momentum. Both teams fielded a mirror comp; aiming to counter their opposition’s dive comp with a dive comp of their own and RunAway emerge victorious in this gamble. Save for ‘Closer’ (Lucio) out-performing his opposite number, ‘Bumper’ (Lucio) – the rest of GC Busan players wilted as they were denied a full completion as the payload stopped just inside the garage entrance. ‘Profit’s’ attempt to out-Genji ‘Haksal’ backfired as he only managed a +5 k/d difference, and even at a point, had his Dragon Blade shut down during casting stage.
On the reverse, RunAway literally ran away with the payload as they toyed with GC Busan’s defense, even pulling off two team-wipes en route to a very strong push, and forcing another seventh game in an APEX Grand Final match. ‘Stitch’ and ‘Haksal’ were again the difference makers for RunAway as they carved through the GC Busan defense with decisive strikes to show they are not out of this contest yet.
By the end of the round, GC Busan had a collective team k/d difference of -20, while RunAway was at +20.
Map 7: Eichenwalde –
With the score tied 3-3 after over four hours of non-stop top-tier Overwatch action, both teams head to Eichenwalde to determine the next APEX Champion. Not dropping a gear, GC Busan who starts the round on offense bounced from a weak showing on Dorado with a strong capture of Point A. Unwilling to walk home as runners-up again, RunAway showed great determination on defense by constantly halting GC Busan’s payload push throughout, and managed to chip the timebank considerably as GC Busan only reached the drawbridge on their final yet successful push. Once they were in the castle, it was all GC Busan as they secured a full push and one hand on the trophy.
On attack, RunAway were constantly denied and were even on the receiving end of a full team-wipe as GC Busan mounted a strong defense. Although it took a longer time to secure the payload, RunAway were finally able to get it going to remain in contention for the title. Haksal’s heroics on Genji was a glimmer of hope for RunAway to get the payload to the end, but it was not meant to be. As shown on their defense of the payload earlier, GC Busan mounted an epic stand just outside of the drawbridge to hold the RunAway push and ultimately secure the title as OGN APEX Season 4 Champions.
Even more impressive was that on Eichenwalde, the k/d count was so jarring with GC Busan reversing the script on Dorado, now scoring a +35 while RunAway only managed an abysmal -35.
With the win, GC Busan walked home with the trophy, along with ₩103,600,000 (about US$91,000) prize money. Many are already calling for Overwatch League team owners to sign up several standouts from this Grand Final including ‘Profit’ into their franchises but word has it, that players of both RunAway and GC Busan will only move as a collective group. But enough about OWL. The torch has been fully passed on in the Korean Overwatch scene and while some are worried about the recent ‘talent drain’, GC Busan is proof that APEX will remain relevant for many seasons to come.